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Only One 'Overboard' A Laughing Matter

One of our favorite movies, all-time, is Overboard. Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, bratty kids, pompous yacht owner…if you're not smiling by now, then you don't know Overboard.

It may be the only time that word brings a smile to anyone's face.

overboardOn cruise ships — on any ships — "overboard" is bad news. Earlier this month, Cruise Critic provided some interesting information after Cruise Lines International Association reported that five people went overboard from cruise ships in one three-week period.

Did you know…

That almost all people who fall off a cruise ship are either suicidal or drunk?

That only Cunard's Queen Victoria is known to have "overboard technology" that is designed to alert crew on the bridge if something of significant size falls from a ship?

That the reason behind the reluctance of all ships to install the expensive technology is the cost of false alarms?

That a vast majority of overboard victims are never found?

That when a person goes overboard a floating marker will be dropped and the ship will circle back to that area in the hope of finding the victim?

That none of these things applied to Goldie Hawn when she went overboard in Overboard?

Carnival Miracle
8 nights
April  28, 2014
VancouverJuneauSkagwayGlacier BayKetchikanSeattle
Inside: $529
Cost per day: $66
www.carnival.com

Black Friday cruise deals often more than a day

It started with televisions and stereo systems going on sale at the crack of dawn, and it was known as the kick-off to the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday.

As the day between Thanksgiving and Saturday, its naming roots go back more than 40 years, when pedestrian and vehicle traffic was so intense that it was a "dark day." The name came to be known as the day that enabled retailers to be profitable, or in the black.

Black Friday still kicks off the shopping season for Christmas, still causes retailers to open when most people are sleeping, and still features televisions and stereos. Also phones, toys, clothes, jewelry…

And yes, cruises.

As foot soldiers in the army of people trying to find good deals for you, here is what some cruise lines have to offer customers on Black Friday:

Norwegian — Credits up to $250 per stateroom and air credits up to $1,000 in what is really "Black Friday Week" because it goes from today to next Tuesday.

Celebrity — In keeping Black Friday shrouded in mystery, the sale starts one minute after midnight with three "incredible offers on over 400 sailings."

Princess — Savings of up to $600 per stateroom, plus an upgrade, a bottle of wine and a few pennies to spend on the cruise, in another Wednesday-to-Wednesday sale.

And then there are the agents that sell cruises on behalf of the lines…like VacationsToGo, and CruiseCritic and Cruise.com.

Sometimes, they're able to come up with the best deals of all.

Even on Black Friday.

Sapphire Princess
4 nights
January 20, 2014
Los Angeles (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $269
Cost per day: $67
www.princess.com

What to expect at Cruising Done Right

In case you haven't figured this out for yourself during the past three and a half years, we thought it might be a good time to enlighten you about what to expect, and what not to expect, when you click on cruisingdoneright.com, as you just have.

Expect to read something written with care, with a dedication to factual accuracy, clarity and devoid of typos (we had one yesterday, picked up by a reader).

Don't expect that this will be a source of breaking news about cruises. That's precisely what Cruise Critic in the U.S. and Phil Reimer in Canada (at portsandbows.com) do better than anybody.

Expect to find a a deal every day…a carefully-researched cruise bargain, five times a week.

Don't expect to find a photo essay of a ship — while we love to cruise we don't go on THAT many ships.

Expect to enjoy (hopefully) a story about cruising with personality, perhaps a little (subjective) humor and often a personal view — every cruiser has a story.

Don't expect stinging critiques of cruise lines, ships or people just for the sake of being a critic.

Expect that everything you read will be in good taste and that your comments will be published as long as they are in good taste and not just promoting whatever product or cause you are "selling."

Don't expect us to be experts. We are merely cruise passengers who research, read about and go on cruises as often as we can. Maybe you think that makes us experts…we think it makes us cruise writers.

Expect to read about cruise people from time to time. Because everybody has a story, and because cruise lines are always trumpeting that it's their people who make the difference, we think this is important and we spend hours on every cruise interviewing people who have a story, from the captain to the laundry room attendant.

Don't expect us to jump all over the latest cruise controversy. We'll do so once we determine it's important to do so.

Expect that we will be here, writing every Monday through Friday, as long as you demonstrate that you want us to be here.

Holland America Zuiderdam
11 nights
November 18, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon CayArubaCuracaoCartagenaPanama CanalColon, Puerto Limon
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $45
www.hollandamerica.com

City of Five Sails Tops at Cruise Critic

Best North American homeport for cruise ships? Miami? New York? New Orleans? Fort Lauderdale? Galveston? Los Angeles? All wrong, so guess again.

Try…Vancouver.

That's the gospel according to the editors of Cruise Critic, lost there in the midst of a bunch of annual cruise awards, version 2013. For those of us who know the city (we used to live there), this is not shocking…in fact, anybody Vancouverwho has will surely have a soft spot upon hearing this news. For those of us who have cruised into Vancouver (and we've done that, too), it's an unforgettable experience.

In a different way, it ranks up there in the "awe" department with Venice, a very different city.

In the cruise industry, Vancouver is regarded as the gateway to Alaska, but it's much more than a stopping off point to give cruise ships that "other country visit" as decreed by the Jones Act. From the deck of a ship, the five sails that mark the Vancouver waterfront and cruise terminal is more unique and recognizable than any port in North America…and as much so as any port in the world.

Off the ship, Vancouver offers cruise passengers — whether embarking or on a five-hour stopover — a variety of experiences. There's funky Gastown just footsteps away, two major sports arenas not much further, majestic Stanley Park within walking distance, Whistler two hours north and waterfronts everywhere.

Business was up in Vancouver last year for cruise passengers, by 22 per cent, and the city is closing in on a million per year. One minor cautionary note: Getting from your ship with luggage can be challenging, especially if you're headed for a nearby hotel. It can be crowded and the exits can be tight for getting on the street…at least they were when we cruised into the "five sails."

Even winners of Cruise Critic's Editors Picks' Awards are allowed to have the odd blemish.

Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
May 5, 2014
Miami (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $309
Cost per day: $77
www.carnival.com

So Who Is Watching the Carry-on Bags When Passengers Go Through Security?

News item from Cruise Critic: Two Port of Miami security guards were arrested this month for stealing from cruise ship passengers, then selling the items. As reported by the Miami New Times, the guards were arrested after police reviewed footage showing one of the suspects taking an iPad from a passenger's bag after it was X-rayed and placing it into the rear of his pants underneath his shirt.

800px-VTBS-luggage_screening copy

When we're going on a cruise, we travel with two computers, two iPhones, two cameras and two iPads. You can debate whether as intrepid cruise writers we need all of that equipment if you like, but it's a debate you'll lose.

And as we've been going through airport security, we've often wondered — when we've been delayed going through the human scanner and our equipment has cleared the bag scanner — who's watching?

It never occurred to us the same fear could be applied when boarding a cruise ship.

The basic problem is the same: when you are separated from your hand luggage for whatever reason, nobody is assuming the responsibility of whatever you have in carryon.

Right?

Golden Princess
3 nights
December 1, 2013
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $66
www.princess.com

 

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